In her alluringly done up accommodation in Mumbai’s Bandra, it is base to watch amateur Rohini Hattangadi alter amid arena host to us and accomplishing her own makeup. The 68-year-old is the aboriginal Indian amateur to win a BAFTA (awarded by the British Academy of Blur and Television Arts) and has additionally won a National Award. But the role that she is best able-bodied accepted for landed on her bowl aback she was 27, and had to portray a 74-year-old. She played the appearance of Kasturba Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s allegorical 1982 film, Gandhi. Hattangadi revisits her memories of animate in this iconic accurate adjustment of his life.
A adolescent alum from National School of Drama who’s added absorbed in theatre than cinema gets a alarm from Richard Attenborough to comedy a abundant earlier character. What was your aboriginal reaction?
Well, in the beginning, it was absolute naïve of me, but I didn’t apperceive the calibration of the film. For me it was aloof a role in an English film. Because of my theatre background, I was alleged for account by Sir Richard — at that time he was Sir Richard, he became Lord afterwards — at the Centaur hotel. It was abiding by accession theatre artist, Dolly Thakore, his communication here. I told him that I’ve alone done three films, but I accept a theatre background. So our absolute chat was about theatre, with no acknowledgment of the film. The abutting day, Dolly active me and I went to the grocer and alleged her, as I didn’t accept a phone. She told me that I accept been called to go to England for a awning test. I didn’t alike accept a passport. She took me to the authorization appointment and somehow, I got a acting authorization accurate for six months. We were accustomed a arena to do so, area Kasturba, in South Africa, refuses to apple-pie the head [inside the Phoenix Farm settlement]. Like a acclimatized theatre artist, I was absolutely prepared, appropriate from my bindi bottomward to the bangles and the mangalsutra. They had fabricated three pairs of Gandhi and Kasturba for the audition. I was with Ben Kingsley, the additional brace was Naseeruddin Shah and Smita Patil, and the third was John Hurt and Bhakti Barve. Ben and I fabricated it.
Did Attenborough acknowledgment why the two of you fabricated the cut?
I anticipate aback we did the scene, they had some clue that Ben and I would accomplish it because of the way we looked. Sir Richard did acknowledgment that although he acquainted that Smita Patil was a admirable actor, I looked added bigoted and ill-fitted the part. He said Smita is too admirable to comedy Kasturba!
WATCH | Gandhi Jayanti: Rohini Hattangadi on arena Kasturba in the iconic film
Tell us about Ben Kingsley and the alertness he had to do to get into the bark of Gandhi’s character.
Ben and I had to apprentice to accomplish a charkha. In addition, I was accomplished in declamation because I bare to get rid of my Maharashtrian accent, while Ben was training in yoga, because he had to broad and because of a hip injury, he begin it tough. We were declared to analysis our characters. While Ben begin a lot of abstract on Mahatma Gandhi, I alone begin two books on Kasturba — Hamari Ba by Vanmala Parikh, and Ba Aur Bapu Ki Sheetal Chhaya Mein by Sushila Nayar. Both books were absolute claimed recollections of the authors, and, therefore, limited. Whenever Ben would get some abstract on Kasturba, he would canyon it on to me. A couple, Mr and Mrs Handa, instructed Ben and I on several aspects of Gandhi and Ba’s life. The four of us would sit and barter addendum for hours.
After he apprehend Gandhi’s adventures by Louis Fischer (The Activity of Mahatma Gandhi), Sir Richard spent added than 18 years aggravating to accomplish this film. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself austere the film, but afterwards he died in 1964, the activity was put on the aback burner. India Gandhi backed the blur and got the National Blur Development Corporation to accord funds for the production. At the time of filming it, were you acquainted of how abundant it has taken for the blur to assuredly appear on the floors?
Again absolute naïve of me, I was not at all acquainted of these things. But eventually, I got to apperceive because during the shoot, I realised that Sir Richard knew Gandhi backwards. I was disturbing with the brainy adding of how old Kasturba would accept been, for cogent scenes like the one on afire English clothes, but afore I could argue the script, he would apperceive the answer. Sir Richard was bedeviled with Gandhi. Aback I apprehend the biography, it was absolute how little we as Indians knew about Gandhi. About the attempt that Sir Richard had to go through, I aloof apperceive that there was arresting action to the authoritative of this film. There were groups that said, “Gandhi par blur kaise bana sakte hain (How can anyone accomplish a blur on Gandhi?)”. Both Richard and Ben had claimed aegis guards with them throughout the shoot.
You, and several added casting members, including Alyque Padamsee (who played Mohammed Ali Jinnah), Neena Gupta (who played Abha, Gandhi’s attendant), and Pankaj Kapur (who played Gandhi’s secretary Pyarelal) were accepted at the time for your assignment in alongside cinema. The Emergency had concluded and the political atmosphere in the country was volatile. And actuality you all were accomplishing a blur backed by the government. Was that a paradox?
Not that I apperceive of. I was absolutely into the role and blur and the alone affair I bethink was animate that there is action to the film, and that’s all. I was blind of the backroom of it, actually.
What was it like on the sets? Was it absolute altered from the antecedent three films you had done by then?
Oh, yes. The account on the sets of Gandhi was absolute minute. There was immense conduct and annihilation was taken for granted. If Gandhi acclimated a assertive specific affectionate of utensil, again it had to be on the set. I bethink our set was on the banks of Yamuna in Badarpur (Delhi border). And on the added bank, a a cut-out of chimneys was needed. The assemblage got cut-outs absolutely like those of bolt comminute chimneys in Ahmedabad. The river coffer on the added ancillary was not alike to be in the camera frame. They didn’t appetite to booty any adventitious alike if a glimpse were to show. It had to be perfect. In Mumbai, we were cutting scenes based in South Africa. And I aback saw zebras. I wondered area Sir Richard had brought zebras to Mumbai from. I was again told that they had corrective stripes on donkeys to accomplish them attending like zebras! He said we can’t get South Africa’s giraffes here, at atomic we can administer zebras.
One of the iconic scenes of the blur was the burial of Mahatma Gandhi. It fabricated it to the Guinness Book of World Records because 300,000 bodies abounding the shoot. Was it planned at this scale?
The advance was planned, but they didn’t apperceive so abounding bodies would about-face up. It was appear in newspapers and radio, bodies were asked to appear and accompany in the Gandhi burial arena of the film. They were told to not abrasion rangeen (coloured) clothes. There were 12 cameras accoutrement the absolute route. Govind Nihalani (now, a acclaimed director) was operating the camera at India Gate. They attempt the arena on January 30, the aforementioned day that Gandhi was assassinated. If you analyze the absolute photo of Gandhiji’s funeral, and the photo of the arena in the film, there’s a arresting similarity. Sir Richard managed to charm it brilliantly.
While filming, could you apprehend that Gandhi would become such a anniversary blur in agreement of bartering success and analytical acclaim? It fetched eight Academy awards and 130 actor dollars at the box office.
As I mentioned, I realised the consequence of the blur alone appear the end of its shooting. There was a clandestine appearance for the crew, and it larboard me speechless. Raungte khade ho rahe the bald (I had goosebumps). Afterwards the release, bodies boring started affectionate the film. India came to be accepted in the West because of Gandhi. Otherwise, they still anticipation that tigers roam about on the streets in India.
The acumen of Mahatma Gandhi has apparent ups and downs over the years, and bodies accept contrarian bend about the appliance of Gandhian philosophy. Accept your bend about Gandhi afflicted over the years in any way?
Gandhiji was accomplished in an English atmosphere, and if you accept the British, you can absolutely accept his assumption of alms the added audacity aback you are slapped on one. Gandhiji knew the apperception of the British able-bodied and that’s why he was able to dispense them. That’s why he was successful. During the ability struggle, abounding times he took amiss decisions, but stopped. And went aback on them. So he was additionally experimenting. In any case, his basal article about education, cleanliness, education, self-reliance, are things that can’t be opposed.
Are you still in blow with adolescent actors from the film?
Not really. Once or alert aback Ben visited India, I met him. Till he was alive, Sir Richard acclimated to accelerate greeting cards every Christmas.
In the era of remakes in Bollywood, do you anticipate a blur like Gandhi could anytime be adapted by the present bearing actors and directors?
Maybe. I don’t appetite to say that they won’t be able to. There are some acceptable actors around. It’s aloof that we in India accept put addition like Gandhi on a pedestal. So for Indians to appearance any blemish in him would be absolute difficult. That’s why it took a non Indian to do it so beautifully. But again from the present cinema professionals, if addition were to analyze Gandhi from a circuitous and altered angle, they should be acceptable to do so. Why not?
Sep 26, 2019 04:40 IST
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